29 March 2011

Building SADTU

Development, Part 10b

Building SADTU

Why SADTU? In the first place, because after the ANC and the SACP, we need an example of a primary, subjective mass organisation so as to consider how the democracy of this country is being built, and can be further built, right across the board, and at every level from grassroots to national.

This is to conclude our course on development, because, firstly, true development, which is “the free development of each, and the condition for the free development of all”, is human development, and depends upon the development of democratic institutions.  But also, material development at local level cannot proceed properly without democratic institutions to guide it.

For this purpose SADTU is as good example as any other.

But in addition one can also say that, in the context of building the National Democratic Revolutionary Alliance at local level, SADTU has a unique relevance because its sites are in every ward. SADTU has an unequalled opportunity to spearhead the integration of the COSATU federation into practical alliance with the SACP and the ANC at local level, because it is there.

Therefore the downloadable text related to this, the last item in the last part of our course on Development, Rural and Urban, is SADTU’s recruitment brochure, previously downloaded from the SADTU web site.

Also from the SADTU web site is the following on Membership:

“SADTU is a union proud of its history and confident of its future. The union is currently boasting a membership of 240,000 representing more than 2/3 of the teaching force in the country. It is an affiliate of COSATU, the biggest federation in South Africa. SADTU is a member of Education International (EI), the global union federation of organisations representing 30 million teachers and other education workers, through 394 member organisations in 171 countries and territories.”

and the following on Joining SADTU:

“Membership of SADTU is open to any person who is eligible for such membership [according to the SADTU constitution] and subscribes to its aims and objects. Persons can apply for full membership for those practicing as teachers or educationalist including those in auxiliary services, both formal and non-formal institutions of learning. Associate membership can be applied for by persons professionally admitted to the teaching profession but no longer practice as such and all persons who qualified as teachers and are yet not employed as such and student teachers.”

The SADTU Constitution (72-Page PDF) can be downloaded here.

Mass organisations of every type are needed. In particular, South Africa needs a democratic, individual-membership mass organisation of women.

From the end of this week the CU political education forum will be carrying a ten-part course on the National Democratic Revolution.

Please download and read this document:

Further reading:

28 March 2011

Imvuselelo Campaign

Development, Part 10a

Imvuselelo Campaign

The SACP’s call to “swell the ranks” of the ANC is not an attempt to gain a majority in the ANC and thereby to take it over. To do that would be counter-productive. The SACP does not need another clone of itself. The SACP needs the ANC to be the ANC: The expression of National Democratic Revolutionary class alliance, and of unity in action; in short, the SACP needs the ANC to be South Africa’s liberation movement.

The growth of the ANC is a tactical necessity for a South Africa that is still trying to realise its full freedom. This is the same reason that the SACP has been building the ANC since the 1920s, without any pause. At the beginning of their relationship the ANC was a much smaller organisation than the SACP.

The ANC complements the SACP and COSATU. No one of these three can replace or substitute for either of the others. None of them can do without the others. All three have to be grown, for the sake of all three.

Now, while the SACP is aiming for half a million members, the ANC is pushing for one million. The organised trade union movement may altogether have three million members.

This growth of mass democratic formations is the working out of the National Democratic Revolution, which moves towards completion in proportion to the democratisation of the popular masses in various mass democratic structures, elaborated at different levels and throughout the country.

The ANC’s expansion and extension plan is called the Imvuselelo Campaign. The linked document below is made up of part of an ANC statement re-launching the Imvuselelo Campaign on 12 August 2010, plus a link to the “How to join the ANC” pages on the ANC web site.

Tomorrow we will look at the role of Trade Unions and the actual and potential role of SADTU in particular.

Please download and read this document:

Further reading:

25 March 2011

The Party Goes Local

Development, Part 10

The Party Goes Local

Last year’s SACP Conference of Commissars, which was themed to discuss the Local, and Local Development, State, rightly gave considerable attention to the decision to re-organise SACP Branches on the basis of Voting Districts, a decision long since taken but so far not yet applied throughout the country.

The SACP is also determined to achieve a 500 000 membership by 2014, or roughly one per cent of the South African population.

Urban Voting Districts contain some 3,000 voters on average located within a radius of some 7,5 km of the Voting District’s single voting station. Rural Voting Districts accommodate some 1,200 voters located within a radius of some 10 km of the voting station. There are normally several, often four or five, Voting Districts in each electoral ward.

SACP Party Branches are supposed to have a minimum of 25 members according to its Constitution, which has not changed. The same rules apply to the new situation.

The next item in this last part of the Development Series will focus on the ANC’s Imvuselelo Campaign, and the third and final part will focus on SADTU’s recruitment, which in turn is in parallel with recruitment by other trade unions within and outside of COSATU, our federation, and with other mass organisations.

Localisation of the Alliance

What are the implications of all this recruitment? What qualitative changes may arise from the envisaged quantitative increase?

The National Democratic Revolutionary Alliance has been called “tripartite”, referring to the SACP - the vanguard party of the working class, the ANC – the mass, class-alliance, unity-in-action liberation movement, and COSATU, the federation of mass industrial trade unions. But in addition to these, the historic “civic” movement SANCO has a status as the fourth member of the Alliance.

The qualitative change which can be expected if the SACP succeeds in creating a substantial number of branches at Voting District level; and if the ANC is able to consolidate its 100-member-plus-per-ward branch structure; and if the local structures of the Trade Union movement can become similarly well-defined; is that the localisation of the Alliance will become a practical possibility.

For many years past, sundry expressions of disappointment been heard saying that the Alliance does not function at local level. The main stumbling block to this local functioning of the Alliance was never a lack of intention but rather the lack of equivalent basic structures across the three main organisations. The SACP especially was apt to be patchy in terms of its coverage on the ground, with hardly any organisational correspondence to the ANC at branch level. SACP Districts have also hardly talked to ANC Regions or to COSATU locals. Only at Provincial and National levels have the three structures been equivalent across all three of the main Alliance organisations.

The coming increase in membership of the SACP and the ANC will mean that it will be possible to populate viable parallel structures all the way down to branch level. This in turn will open up the prospect of a renewed relevance for SANCO, which can be the locus of combination with other mass organisation, of women, of religious people, and more.

The implications for the possibility of conscious, all-round development of the country in the fullest sense are profound.

The main linked downloadable document is a compilation of the Commission Report on Building a Strong SACP from the Conference of Commissars, and notes on forming Voting District Branches, including relevant extracts from the SACP Constitution.

Please download and read this document:

Further reading:

12 March 2011

COSATU’s Growth Path Document, and after


Development, Part 9b

COSATU’s Growth Path Document, and after

This post introduces COSATU’s Growth Path Document, fully titled “A Growth Path Towards Full Employment” which was published in September 2010 and which is linked for download below.

In his introduction to the COSATU Growth Path document, COSATU General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said “It is going to be our Koran and Bible and nobody will burn it” (quoted in The Times, Johannesburg, 15 September 2010).

In keeping with this biblical metaphor, the document begins with a “Genesis” section that chronicles the “begats” of “growth path” controversies since the 1990 COSATU workshop that begat the very term “growth path”, according to this document. The 1992 COSATU Economic Policy Conference begat six defined areas. The ANC begat the “Ready to Govern” document.

In 1993, MERG begat “A Framework for Macroeconomic Policy in South Africa”, and all of the above together begat the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) in 1994. Then GEAR appeared, begat by the 1996 Class Project, and GEAR smote the RDP. Then COSATU came forth the same year with Social Equity and Job Creation (SEJC).

Other documents followed, all the way to Polokwane in 2007.

There is nothing of political economy in this document, but plenty of empirical and utilitarian arguments and projections that inhabit the same intellectual framework as that which confines COSATU’s liberal opponents.

The document is relatively more “dirigiste” (steering) and less “laissez-faire” (let it be, or leave well alone) than the mainstream of the South African Treasury, or the editorials of the Business Day, but it is far from revolutionary. The argument for COSATU is about “getting the balance right”.

As the COSATU GS pointed out, the document is intended to stand alone as a Bible without equals, antecedents or successors, outside of the listed chain of documents from which it sprang. Of course this poses problems for those of us who study works of political economy and history.

Where the document connects to Marx’s Capital, Volumes 1, 2 or 3, for example, if it does at all, is a mystery.

In our particular course on development, of which this is the ninth part of ten, we have looked at dialectical laws of development and of class struggle, and we have looked at the history of the NEP in the Soviet Union and of peasant life in Africa, of five-year plans and the management of capitalism in China. None of the material we have looked at appears anywhere in the new COSATU document, or in its pedigree, as far as we can see, so far.

The document is 120 pages long and certainly contains some material that could stimulate good Freirean dialogue. Here is a shortened version of the “Conclusions” from its last two pages:

COSATU’s ‘Growth Path’ document, September 2010, Conclusions (edited)

1.      The aims of the new growth path are the creation of decent work; Redistribution of income and power; Industrial development; Meeting basic needs; Environmental Sustainability; and the development of Southern Africa
2.      On Economic Policy, we have identified five areas and proposed policy interventions: Industrial Policy; Rural Development; Trade Policy; Skills Development and Macroeconomic Policy
3.      In terms of social policy we have also identified six broad areas in which the state must take the lead: Education; Healthcare; Crime, Corruption and the Justice System; Basic Infrastructure; Environmental Sustainability and Green Jobs and Social Protection
4.      We also argue that for this growth and development path to be successful there needs to be a change in the patterns of ownership.
5.      In terms of regional development, we note that the failure of South Africa to change its industrial structure, and the continued dominance of our economy by conglomerates, especially around the core Minerals Energy sectors, spells doom for regional industrial development.
6.      It is therefore incumbent upon South Africans to ensure that they change the pattern of economic development.
7.      The policy proposals made in this document should be considered as a package.
8.      This framework document is a start to a process of more detailed engagement.

COSATU Responses to Government’s New Growth Path

Just over two months later, on 23 November 2010, the Minister for Economic Development issued the South African Government’s New Growth Path Framework (NGP), which we have seen in the previous part of this course. COSATU called it into question, but it was reconfirmed by the ANC in the January 8th statement at the beginning of 2011.

On 9 March 2011 Cde Vavi made a speech (linked below) in which he said “there is much in the NGP which we can welcome” and that COSATU was engaged with it in NEDLAC. Although he pays lip-service to job-creation, Vavi strongly identifies redistribution as his central aim, especially redistribution from white to black, of wealth, and positions.

But it is not clear how redistribution of wealth and personnel changes in companies would result in more employment.

ANC NEC Lekgotla

According to the ANC NEC Lekgotla of 13-14 January 2011, the New Growth Path is accepted, while the following vague heads of discussion remain to be debated with COSATU at some indefinite future time:
  • Role of the State
  • Specific contributions and the frameworks of macroeconomic and microeconomic policies
  • The connection between the NGP and broader social policy goals
  • Ensuring that labour market policies address issues of decent work, both in terms of quality and quantity of jobs created
  • Ensuring that the broad goals of the movement in terms of ownership of the means of production are achieved


What is lacking in all of this verbal output from COSATU is the simple recognition that all actually-existing jobs are contracts of exchange of labour-power for money, where the product of the labour exerted will go entirely to the employer. This is the fundamental relationship of “Capital”, as described by Karl Marx one and a half centuries ago.

At this stage, no different relationship of production has been invented or put into practice in South Africa or anywhere else. Therefore, as in the past in the Soviet Union, and as in China today, the expansion of the proletariat towards full employment has to mean the simultaneous expansion of Capital. Holding back the expansion of Capital will hold back the expansion of the proletariat. All the COSATU documentation around the New Growth Path simply evades this central fact. Consequently, the impression that COSATU gives of playing around the margins of the problem of job-creation, and holding job-creation ransom to considerations that are not central, does represent a reality.

COSATU is not yet thinking clearly about job creation in South Africa.

Please download and read this document:

Further reading:

11 March 2011

Local Democracy and LED

Development, Part 9a

Local Democracy and LED

From 15-18 July 2010 the South African Communist Party staged a national Conference of Commissars, in Johannesburg, with emphasis on the localisation of politics and on the politics of development at local level.

In this second post of the ninth and penultimate part of our course on “Development”, we take two of the commission report-backs of that Commissars’ Conference, downloadable via the main links below.

In the next post we will foreground COSATU’s Growth Path Document, fully titled “A Growth Path Towards Full Employment”, which is also linked for download below under “Further Reading”, together with a speech made this week by COSATU General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

The final part will be dedicated to material on the local organisation of the SACP, of the ANC, of the mass trade union movement and other mass organs of peoples’ power.

The first of today’s two main linked documents is on the Local Government Turnaround Strategy (LGTAS), but ranges on to electoral tactics and what is called the “deepening” of Local Government.

The second of today’s main linked documents is on Local Economic Development and on the creation of sustainable livelihoods, including through Co-operatives.

Both of these documents, being unedited commission report-backs, are compiled of dozens of listed points, separated into rudimentary categories. This makes them difficult to summarise.

What one might say is this: That whereas on the face of it the local level is where individuals and small groups of individuals have their best opportunity of taking initiatives, exercising agency, and becoming free subjects within the democracy, yet it is also at local level that the same individuals encounter the most formidable barrage of controls, restrictions, bureaucracy and corruption.

A conclusion from this would be that a great effort has to be made to educate, organise and mobilise people democratically at the scale of the smallest demarcations, so that democratic interventions at the national level do not translate into bullying, anti-democratic dictatorship and consequent stagnation at the base of the pyramid.

The cartoon image is designed to suggest that the negotiation of competing interests is as difficult at the local and the individual level of society as it is at any other level, whereas the education and the expertise to overcome the managerial difficulties is scarce at that level. The absent expertise can only be replaced with democratisation, in line with the National Democratic Revolution.

Please download and read these documents:

Further reading:

10 March 2011

Mineral-Energy Complex

Development, Part 9

N.B. This post is one day early. Part 9a and 9b will follow. Part 10 is scheduled for 27 March 2011

Mineral-Energy Complex

South Africa’s largest centres of material production are in minerals and energy, and these two “sectors” are highly interdependent. For example the mineral, coal, is the mainstay of the electricity-generating industry of the country, while electric energy is indispensable to the gold, platinum and other mines.

No question of “development” in South Africa can be properly addressed without reference to the mineral-energy complex.

The SACP’s discussion document “Expanding Democratic Public Control over the Mining Sector” (download linked below) therefore has implications beyond the mining sector, and beyond the energy sector. This document is a window on the way that development - the dynamic dialectical unity-and-struggle-of-opposites otherwise called the class struggle - and its relationship with the state are playing out before our eyes.

It is a remarkable document. Not only is it a theoretical masterpiece, helping us to see clearly what is what and who is who, but it also stands comparison with the best of journalism, because it illuminates the South African situation so well, as a narrative.

One of the quotations given in the document is from Frederick Engels, on nationalisation, as follows:

“the transformation…into state prop­erty, does not do away with the capitalistic nature of the productive forces… The more it [the bourgeois state] proceeds to the tak­ing over of productive forces, the more does it actually become the national capitalist, the more citizens does it exploit. The work­ers remain wage-workers – proletarians. The capitalist relation is not done away with. It is rather brought to a head.” (En­gels, “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific”, 1880).

The workers in nationalised industries, including teachers, remain proletarians. They sell their labour-power for cash and they have constantly to renegotiate their pay and conditions with an employer who can be as ruthless as any other capitalist.

This is the second last week of the “Development” series. In the remainder of this part we will look at some material on Local Government and on “Local Economic Development”.

The next series on this channel will be “The Classics”, in ten parts. The recent posting here on Solomon Plaatje was a mistake. You may follow that series here (CU bog) or here (CU e-mail forum – please join).

Please download and read this document:

Further reading:

9 March 2011

The New Growth Path

Development, Part 8c

The New Growth Path

Download the NGP Framework at:
[36 pages, PDF]

On 23 November 2010 South Africa’s Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel introduced “The New Growth Path” (NGP). His four-page introduction can be downloaded from the link below.

Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies had issued the 2010/11 – 2012/13 “Industrial Policy Action Plan” ("IPAP2") earlier in the same year (18 February 2010), as we noted yesterday.

On 30 April 2010 the 24 members of the National Planning Commission were appointed, with an expectation that they would work publicly and transparently to produce a 25-year National Strategic Plan and/or a 5-year Medium Term Strategic Framework within one year, with subsequent annual updates.

Since their appointment, nothing has been published by thes National Planning Commission. What we do have are the two earlier Green Papers published by the National Planning Minister and Commission Chair, Trevor Manuel. These are instructive.

Three streams

How can the Communist University in particular cope with three different streams of documents from three different ministers, on development?

With or without the appointed National Planning Commission’s first full attempt at planning, it is bound to be difficult for anyone to synthesise these three sources and come up with a concretised description of South Africa’s new post-Polokwane development plans in total.

What we can do for now is to take one of these documents, the first Green Paper, and use it to generate a discussion about the requirement for development planning in South Africa at the present time. If that document has obvious flaws, then so much the better. We will be less likely to treat it as gospel, and more likely to have a discussion. The other documents are made available and comrades are therefore free to study them and to refer to them. After that, the struggle continues.

And the others?

The ANC Youth League and the Young Communist League have briefly noted the New Growth Path, and both have promised to comment upon it further.

The ANC YL has tended to treat the question of development entirely as a matter of nationalisation and redistribution of the “cake” of “white capital”, but has most recently added the “revolutionary” act of making babies to their short list of revolutionary priorities.

The SACP has broadly welcomed the New Growth Path, and before it the IPAP2. The Party is anxious to see how any wage-subsidy would be safeguarded against the obvious potential forms of abuse.

COSATU has some criticisms; we await further particulars and will return to COSATU in the next part of this course.

One thing is for sure: Nobody wants an Incomes Policy.

Images: Ebrahim PatelGOELRO Plan document, 1920.

Please download and read this document:

Further reading:

8 March 2011

Industrial Policy Action Plan ("IPAP2")

Development, Part 8b

Industrial Policy Action Plan

On 18 February 2010 South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies introduced “IPAP2” in a speech to the, National Assembly, now a 4-page document (download linked below). Introducing the Plan, he wrote:

“As a country, South Africa has no alternative to the course of action we propose. Manufacturing and other productive sectors of the economy are the engines of long-term sustainable growth and job creation in developing countries such as our own.”

The full 95-page 2010/11 – 2012/13 Industrial Policy Action Plan (4-part PDF) is at:

This is the Industrial Policy document that Polokwane promised.

Towards the end of the introductory document Dr Davies writes

“It is estimated that the IPAP will result in the creation of 2 477 000 direct and indirect decent jobs over the next ten years. It will diversify and grow exports, improve the trade balance, build long term industrial capability, grow our domestic technology and catalyse skills development.”

This is the kind of good work that puts empirical meaning into the term “developmental state”.

Image: Dr Rob Davies. Cde Davies is also a member of the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party.

Please download and read this document:

Further reading:

7 March 2011

Green Paper Revised

Development, Part 8a

Green Paper Revised

The Revised Green Paper on the National Planning Commission of January 2010 (download linked below) resolves the question of authority as follows:

Cabinet would be ultimately responsible for adopting a national vision and strategic plan. A clear understanding of how government works as well as independent input that clearly articulates the aspirations of ordinary South Africans are two essential ingredients of this national vision and strategic plan. “

The document is brief and concerns itself with some definitions. In conclusion it says:

“The Revised Green Paper: National Planning Commission is thus now published in the Gazette, proclaiming the establishment of the Commission and inviting nominations.

The nominations from the public were many and rumoured to be in the thousands, but the names of neither the nominees nor any intermediate shortlist were published, but only (on 30 April 2010) the list of 24 appointed Commissioners, who are:

Bobby Godsell
Mariam Altman
Joel Netshitenzhe
Jerry Coovadia
Elias Masilela
Chris Malikane
Anton Eberhard
Karl von Holdt
Jerry Vilakazi
Vivienne Taylor
Bridgette Gasa
Mohammed Karaan
Noluthando Gosa
Marcus Balintulo
Thandabantu Goba
Tasneem Essop
Jennifer Molwantwa
Vuyokazi Mahlati
Phillip Harrison
Pascal Moloi
Mike Muller
Malekgapuru Makgoba
Ihron Rensburg
Vincent Maphai

The commission has yet to pronounce. Its work is not yet transparent.

Tomorrow we will look at the IPAP2 document.

Image: GOELRO Plan (Electrification of the Soviet Union) as transparently imagined by artist Pavel Filonov, (1883-1941). The GOELRO Plan was published in 1920 and completed by 1931.

What Lenin wrote: Communism = Soviet power + electrification

Please download and read this document:

Further reading: